Charity news

Pedals With A Cause

Last week, the Pedals With A Cause managed to raise $3100 with their pedal auction for Walter Trout.

These companies supported the auction by offering pedals:

Soon there will also be charity auctions by Circuits to Cure Cancer, so make sure to like the page and keep an eye on it!

[review] Spaceman Sputnik (by Bieke)

Spaceman Effects

Spaceman is the pedal company based in Oregon, Portland, USA. Spaceman pedals are extraordinary pedals, mostly fuzzes, but there are also boosters and an overdrive. All Spaceman pedals are hand made in small batches, so there's a limited availability. In fact, the Sputnik I am about to review is currently out of stock. To keep up to date about the availability of this pedal, you should join the Spaceman e-mail list or regularly check Spaceman on Facebook.

Spaceman SputnikThe Looks

Pristine. I'm looking at a fiery red Sputnik pedal The Red Edition (limited to 69 units) featuring a special red/yellow engraved vinyl faceplate with Russian Cyrillic inscriptions and a red jewel light. It has a bit of a Cold War and Soviet theme going, all in good taste. In fact, the Sputnik is a germanium fuzz that uses vintage Soviet transistors.

So, it looks very cool on the outside, but beauty lies within the cast aluminum enclosure. The circuit boards inside the Sputnik are a work of art, really one of the most impressive builds I have ever seen. There are 3 unmarked transistors in there that look like miniature army green Soviet army helmets. The circuit boards -there are 2 separate PCB stacked inside- are decorated with little stars and sputniks and are packed with top quality components, military spec wiring, ultra clean wiring and soldering. Stunning job. There are also 2 trimpots inside, hmmm, something tells me these are best left alone.

True bypass switching. The Sputnik has input on the right, output and power jack on the left. It takes a regulated 9-12V DC adapter with negative center.

Controls are:

  • Signal: Output Volume
  • Range: Fuzz Gain
  • Calibrate: Tone
  • Scan: hard to describe, when switched in Drift mode, the Scan control interacts with the Range and Calibrate controls and yields the craziest fuzz sounds imaginable.
  • Sync/Drift (toggle switch): again, hard to describe, I'd say in Sync mode it acts like you would expect from a fuzz whereas Drift mode is a fuzz surprise, let the fuzz entertain you.
  • Filter (toggle switch): enables bass cut with mid-scoop filter

Overview of new pedals at Musikmesse 2014

It's that time of the year again: Frankfurt Musikmesse!

As every year I'll check out all the new pedals and add them to the site. You can find the list here:

Pretty short after NAMM (a month earlier than last year!), but I hope to see lots of new pedals anyway!

[interview] FYA Electronics: Miro Solkio

Here's FXDB's interview with Miro Solkio of FYA Electronics.

FYA Electronics is run by Miro Solkio in Turku, Finland. It is one man brand that's currently completely unincorporated.

How did FYA Electronics start?

I started to build by accident. I've been interested in pedals for a long time and at one point, something just snapped. At the time I was trying out a lot of big brand effects and wanted to try out one that I couldn't find here where I live. I found a kit for the circuit online and tried it out. I didn't have any background in electronics, so the kit was good to try out at first. After couple of successful kits, I just dived deeper and deeper into DIY. Suddenly I noticed I had built couple of hundred boxes. Mostly custom one-offs for people who were asking for them. Next I noticed I had couple of reasonably good sounding original designs on my hands. That's when I figured I needed a brand name. As ugly as it may sound, I'm keeping it.

When I was starting out, the biggest help came from a DIY guru known as |v|ark. He's the man who's still getting a pedal from every original batch I'll build to his mailbox before anyone else gets one. Most of the DIY community are very nice and helpful people. I've been in contact with many DIYers who really know their stuff. And the community that exists only on internet suits me perfectly.

[interview] RogerThat: Rogier van Oudheusden

Here's FXDB's interview with Rogier van Oudheusden of RogerThat.

RogerThat was started by Rogier van Oudheusden in 2009. It is located in Amsterdam, Holland.

How did RogerThat start?

I am a guitar player for about 20 years. I also have an electronics degree and was always DIY-ing anything I could, especially audio stuff.

After working for 5 years in a recording studio I noticed that most rock and metal guitar players say that the only good distortion they use, is the one coming from their €3000 tube amplifier. I wanted to create a pedal that would simulate that sound and that's how the RogerThat Distortion was born.

Basically we did it alone, the only help we had was with the guitar videos on the website. We used a professional video editor for those.

[interview] Grosheff: Vyacheslav Groshev

Here's FXDB's interview with Vyacheslav Groshev of Grosheff.

Grosheff is run by Vyacheslav (Ches) Groshev in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine.

How did Grosheff start?

I became interested in radio electronics about 14 years old. Then my mother gave me my first acoustic guitar, so I learned to play it and a bit later I saw a simple fuzz-box circuit in the radio magazine. I was very impressed with the idea of getting a variety of new sounds from a simple guitar sound.G'n'Z Blue Sky Drive

I began the first experiments on the creation of such devices. After high school, I enrolled at the Radio Engineering Faculty of the Polytechnical Institute. After graduating from the institute in 1984, I worked as a designer at a large radio factory and, at the same time, played guitar in a local jazz band.

In 1985 I started the first serious experiments on the design of guitar pedals. In 1987 I met a man named Sergey Zapolskiy, who also played guitar and in the same year we established a joint commercial project for the production of guitar pedals, which we called simply – "G'n'Z". I was engaged in the designing and manufacture of electronic circuits, and Sergey was producing beautiful bodys for the pedals. In addition Sergey tested our pedal in real conditions, did expert evaluation of their sound and gave his recommendations. I listened and thought and... did something in my own way again. We sold quite a lot of pedals.

After the victory of the West in the Cold War (in 90's) and the collapse of the Soviet Union the economical situation in our country has drastically changed. In early 2000's, Sergey concentrated on his work as a guitar player in the band, and I continued to produce pedals under the GROSHEFF brand.


[review] OGRE Thunderclap Distortion (by Bieke)

OGRE Thunderclap

For those who have not heard about OGRE pedals, well you came to the right place. OGRE is a new pedal and guitar manufacturer, a subdivision of Hankuk Precision Co. Ltd. and is operating out of South Korea.

OGRE pedals were released in Korea about half a year ago and also made an appearance at NAMM earlier this year, and OGRE will also be on display at the Frankfurt Musikmesse next month. Eungsoo Lee is the chief designer for OGRE and he's a songwriter/musician as well.

As for effects, so far OGRE have released 2 models, an overdrive (the Tubeholic) and a distortion, and there's one more pedal in the pipeline, a delay. Really anxious to hear more about that Kronomaster delay, especially since I noticed that Eungsoo is a fan of the Roland Space Echo ...

Anyway, lets have a look at the Thunderclap distortion...

OGRE ThunderclapThe looks

Well, it is all a matter of personal taste. But there is no way around it, it looks spectacular, it has this skull & bones theme, also horns, two big ones and 4 smaller ones, 2 piercing blue status LEDs are watching you when you step on the lower jawbone to engage the pedal. The 4 smaller horns on the forehead are in fact controls for volume, bass, treble and gain. If you look up close, the horns are marked with V, B, T and G.

It feels a bit strange to be turning horns on a pedal, and it also takes a while to become familiar with the settings, from the orientation and angle of the horn tips, you can get a rough feeling of the settings, I still prefer knobs with markers for easy reference, but this is also fun, and different to say the least. Also, these controls seem to hold up well and have a solid feel.

The casing is a die cast aluminium, with a nice 3D effect and with great attention for detail a and finishing, quite an ingenious design. The Thunderclap is available in different colors, gray (stained aluminium), yellow, red and green (the yellow one looks really cool).

Bottom plate has an easy access battery compartment, in and outputs are on the top (of the skull), with the 9V DC power socket, a bit recessed in the skull. For that reason, you get a straight angle power connector with the pedal, so that you can power it without interfering with your patch cables.

Also, a lot of detail went into packaging and presentation of the OGRE pedals, it all looks very classy and prestigious. I have even seen that some pedals come with a miniature skull, same shape as the pedal, but then as a necklace.

So the Thunderclap appears to be directed towards the metal player? It sure has a satanic theme going.

Is it the ultimate Doom pedal? Well, read on.

[review] OGRE TubeHolic Overdrive (by Bieke)

A couple of months ago, Bart told me that -in his never ending search for new pedals- he stumbled upon something special. Something different. He would not tell me more. But it did not take long before he revealed his discovery on FXDB. And I think I'm not the only person who spotted the OGRE pedals here first. Fast forward and Bart handed me a couple of pedals to review. Also, Bart asked me to get on with it and finish a review pronto, before the whole world finds out about these. But I'm the slowest reviewer in the world. So here it is, my fast and furious review of the OGRE Tubeholic.

OGRE Tubeholic OverdriveThe Looks

Funny looking pedal, in a kind of cool way. Or cool looking pedal, in a kind of funny way. I am looking at an alienating robot slash alien face, with blue gloomy eyes, and a forehead that lifts, hinges  and slides forward to reveal 3 controls (the brain section), familiar looking controls, volume, tone, gain. The controls have a nice stiff feel (I like that).

Love it or hate it, it is not your usual Hammond box pedal, in fact, a lot of detail went into design and creation of this oddly shaped pedal. I must say, I quickly gotten used to it and was soon able to forget my initial feeling about it being a bit too much and over the top. I'm used to those Hammond boxes and this is certainly a somewhat outrageous design.

The casing is a die cast aluminium, feels solid, the bottom plate has the familiar Boss footprint, but with an easy access battery compartment (I like that). In- and Output and 9V DC Boss type power plug on the top (I like that too).

There is no footswitch, the idea is to just step on the face (where the mouth is) to engage the pedal, you'll hear the familiar click of a footswitch (true bypass) and another thing you need to become familiar with is you do not see the controls, you're supposed to dial in your settings and close the cover.

Hmmm, because of that, it is not really pedalboard friendly, unless you have a big board or leveled board, it could be comfortably sitting on the top row, it needs a bit of extra space to uncover the controls, if you need to adjust the control settings.

Anyway, everything about the pedal, the packaging (a stylish black and red coated cardboard box) and the whole theme and the styling is quite unique. I can even imagine people putting this in a cabinet display.

Top quality build as well, nothing cheap about this OGRE pedal.

[review] Sola Sound Tone Bender Mk1.75 (D*A*M Reissue) El Diablo (by Bieke)

During my last visit to Bart's gear vault, he was putting pedals for me to try in a box and then said "I also got another one of these" and showed me a lovely looking old skool Tone Bender. I swiftly replied that I most certainly wanted to give it a try and do a review accordingly...

Couple of days later, during a chat with Bart, I mentioned that I was really digging it, and asked if it was a Mk1.5 by any chance. Bart replied by sending me a link of the El Diablo Mk1.75, with OC75 and OC84 transistors.

Well, close enough, I figured. Still left me puzzled. After playing it some more, I had a look inside … this one had two OC75 transistors. It sounded sort of like a mix between the Mk1.5 and MkII.

This Tone Bender is built by fuzz guru David Main of D*A*M. And for this particular fuzz, he was aiming at making the Mk1.5 a bit different, with OC75's. This is not obvious, as it would likely turn into a very unstable fuzz. I vividly recall playing Bart's vintage original Mk1.5, which was my personal favorite in a huge fuzz shootout we once held in my garage. The Mk1.5 is a very lively and unpredictable fuzz, still very musical sounding. Bart definitely got a good one, since the original Mk1.5's are also known to differ a lot soundwise.

David Main went with the OC75 circuit but with two slight mods. A first modification correctly biases the circuit for the OC75 transistor, this is also used in the MkII. The second modification is a pull-down capacitor on the input. Again same as used on some MkII's. The Mk1.5 Tone Benders that were made in 1966 also featured two OC75's, and the circuit that was used back then also used for the Italian made Vox Tone Benders.

A review nonetheless.

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